The International Press Institute (IPI) claims a report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has indicated at least 57 journalists are currently in prison in Turkey, which the IPI says is “apparently more than any other country”.
While Iran and China topped lists last December by reportedly jailing some 34 journalists each, Turkey, a candidate for membership in the European Union, has nearly doubled that number five months later, raising questions about the country’s commitment to freedom of the press and the legitimacy of its democratic image.
Last year Journalism.co.uk reported that restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey had given the European Commission “cause for concern” according to a progress report released in November.
In the annual report, produced to assess progress in European Union membership candidate and potential candidate countries, the commission claimed a “high number” of violations of freedom of expression in Turkey are still being submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists the number of journalists in prison worldwide as of 1 December last year, had risen to its highest level since 1996. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, the CPJ found that 145 reporters, editors and photojournalists were in jail in 28 countries at the time of the report.
An Iranian journalist and blogger has been sentenced to almost 20 years in prison and a five-year ban on working in politics or journalism upon his release, after being accused of managing an “obscene website” by Iranian authorities.
Reporting on the ruling, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said the sentence was the longest to have ever been made against a blogger in the country.
He is the victim of political rivalry within the government and the case against him was fabricated. We urge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intercede personally in order to obtain his release without delay.
Derakhshan defended the Islamic Revolution’s principles, supported Ahmadinejad’s policies and returned to Iran from Canada after being assured by people close to the president that he would not be arrested. Canada and the rest of the international community must press for this harsh sentence to be quashed and for Derakhshan to be freed at once.